The families of two U.S. soldiers involved in an Army helicopter crash in Afghanistan in 2013 have filed a lawsuit against the manufacturer of the aircraft’s engine control unit, alleging the digital part failed to send enough fuel to the engine, which resulted in loss of engine power during flight.
Army Chief Warrant Officer 3 James Groves III, 37, was killed when the Kiowa Warrior OH-58D helicopter he was piloting crashed on March 16, 2013. Co-pilot 1st Lt. Jonathon K. Kohl, 25, received severe trauma to his head and spine and now lives in a Germantown, Md., rehabilitation facility where he has a full-time medical assistant.
The lawsuit accuses Charlotte, N.C.-based Goodrich Pump and Engine Control Systems Inc. and Triumph Group Inc. of Berwyn, Penn., which acquired Goodrich Pump around the time of the crash, of designing and manufacturing a faulty fuel regulator component in the helicopter’s Full Authority Digital Electronic Control. The allegedly defective part is responsible for ensuring the engine receives sufficient fuel.
“The defendants knew that the consequences of these failures were and are serious injury and death, including the death of Plaintiffs’ decedent Groves and permanent physical injuries suffered by Kohl,” the lawsuit said.
“Military investigators said the crash likely occurred because the digital electronic engine control did not automatically send more fuel to the engine when the helicopter’s rotor slowed down, putting the aviators in a situation from which they could not recover, the Washington Post reported, citing documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.
An attorney for the plaintiffs said that the same part from the same company has been blamed for other crashes, including one that killed two U.S. soldiers in Fort Benning, Ga., in 2011.
The lawsuit was filed in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas and seeks more than $100,000 in compensatory damages, attorney fees, and other relief for the families of both men. Officer Groves leaves behind a wife and two children. Officer Kohl’s wife lives in Washington D.C., a few miles from the medical facility in which he resides.